Trust in God’s Plans

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Trust in God’s Plans. Exodus 4:19-6:12

Let’s pray.

We can often have in our mind how we hope an event, or a series of events will play out. We plan for what will happen along the way, and the result. But things don’t always go as we plan. In fact, sometimes things that we plan don’t happen. We really don’t have to look far this year for examples, do we. I’m sure that many of us had plans for this year that have had to be changed or cancelled. For those of us here in the room, why don’t you put up your hand if you have had to change or cancel a holiday or work trip or celebration or any big event due to COVID-19. I know I have, and I suspect that this will probably include everyone. Now don’t get me wrong, some of the changes people have experienced because of the restrictions around COVID-19 have proven to be helpful, more family time, not as much in the diary, but there are many times that the restrictions have meant frustration, sadness, grief, the loss of Jobs and worse. I know there are least two couples in our church who had weddings planned for this year, and while one of those couples has recently tied the knot, the day could not happen as they had originally wanted it. The wedding plan, the reception plan, the photography. Well everything to do with the wedding had to be changed to fit in with the COVID-19 rules that govern weddings in NSW. This is just one example of an event in this season that hasn’t looked like its original plan. We have all had to adjust to life as we know it in 2020 with COVID-19, which wasn’t planned by any of us. It was unexpected. Well when we turn to Exodus and specifically what we read in our chapters for today’s sermon, we see God’s plan laid out and the first part being enacted. God not only shares the goal with Moses, but he also shares part of what will happen along the way as the journey unfolds. We make plans for all kinds of things, but we can’t be completely sure how they will turn out. With God’s plans however, we can know that what God promises will happen exactly as he says. For God knows all things and his ways are perfect.

Today’s message follows on from Matt’s message from Exodus 3&4 last week that ‘Salvation belongs to the Lord’. God spells out to Moses how this salvation will happen and what the result will be. He will indeed rescue His people, and that will be done exactly how God has planned it to be done. 

  1. God’s Plan

God tells Moses his plan 4:19-23

As we get into the today’s passage in verses 19-23 of chapter 4, we see that God give Moses two instructions. In verse 19 he tells Moses to go back to Egypt and then in verse 21 he lays out what Moses is to do and say when he returns to Egypt. God tells Moses his plan and he starts to show Moses how this plan will unfold including the ending. I don’t know if you have ever been reading a book and you are only half-way through and then you decide that you need to know how the book ended before reading the rest of the book, so you jump to the final page. Well that is exactly what God does here. Here gives Moses the ending of the rescue story right here. Read with me 21-23

21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”

God tells Moses what will happen, he doesn’t have to wonder. Pharaoh’s heart will be hard because I have hardened it and he won’t let my people go until I kill his first-born son. These two verses are a very succinct summary of the next 8 chapters of Exodus. A summary of exactly how things will go as Moses and Aaron meet time and time again with Pharaoh. There could be a whole sermon on these two verses but suffice for now to say that we are given the end result of what will transpire between God and Pharaoh right here. We see the final plague of the killing of the first-born sons and the reason for it. Pharaoh has enslaved and mistreated God’s own son, Israel, God’s own people, and so the result of this will be the death of Egypt’s firstborn sons.

So far in this section Moses does just as the Lord has commanded him. He is being obedient. Yet, there is a continuing disobedience that needs to be addressed……

Disobedience needs to be dealt with 4:24-66

As we read the next two verses, we come to what is described as a mysterious section of this passage. We have just heard that God has shared his plan with Moses for how things will transpire with Pharaoh, and now in the next verse we read that God was about to kill Moses. What is going on? Well it would seem that Moses had a son who had not been circumcised. Just let that sink in for a moment. The very sign of the covenant between God and his people was circumcision and in Genesis 17:12-14 God said that If you are not circumcised you were to be cut off from God’s people. The disobedience of not having circumcised his child is staggering. We then read that Zipporah (Moses wife) circumcised the child and the Lord didn’t kill Moses. While there are several questions around this small section, the main thing that I think we are meant to see, is that this significant disobedience is rectified with the circumcision of the child.

Moses, Aaron and the Israelite Elders 4:27-31

So, we move on with the story and see that Moses and Aaron meet up on the mountain of God. This is no accident. This agrees with what God has planned and spoken. On this same mountain, God instructed Moses and now Moses is instructing Aaron as God had said in Exodus 4:15 and 16

15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.

Then in verse 29, we see Aaron performing the duty of the mouthpiece, the spokesperson, which in this first instance is to the elders of God’s people, the Israelites.

Once again God’s plan is happening exactly as God said it would. We also see here one of the wonderful high points of Exodus so far. Read along with me verses 30 & 31

30 and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people,31 and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

How excited the people were. They had cried out to be rescued from slavery as we read in Ex 2:23 and now here they were sharing in God’s wonderful salvation plan for their people. Oh, they were ecstatic. This euphoria they turned into praise of Yahweh.

Well after speaking to their fellow Israelites and them being on board with God’s plans, Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh. Now while God had made clear to Moses how this would unfold in verse 21 from chapter 4. I think that it is safe to say that Moses was probably feeling pretty good about how things were going. I mean he and Aaron had gained the approval of the elders of God’s people. They were on board. So off they go to see Pharaoh.

  1. Failure?

So we see in chapter 5 that Pharaoh completely rejects Moses and Aaron and their God. In fact he doesn’t just reject them he makes life even more miserable for the Israelites. While life had been incredibly hard having to make bricks all day, now they had to do it without been given straw. They had to go and find their own straw. This seemed to the Israelites to be a complete failure. Not only were they not rescued, but now things had gone from bad to worse. So what do the Israelites do. They give Moses and Aaron a complete telling off. They accuse Moses and Aaron of failure. There seems to be no trust in God or what Moses and Aaron are doing. But that’s not the end of the story, after having been told off himself, Moses now returns to God and tells him off. Exodus 5:22 & 23

22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

Moses is accusing God of doing evil. Even worse Moses is calling into question the very character of God. As far as Moses is concerned, in that moment the whole rescue plan has failed. For us here having the book of Exodus in front of us, we would say to Moses. What are you surprised about? God made this pretty clear mate. In fact what has just happened is God’s will. Pharaoh’s heart is hard.

Moses, Aaron and the Israelites are not happy with how God’s plan is unfolding. They are in shock. Moses and Aaron had told them about how God had remembered the Israelites and that he would rescue them, and then there were the signs that Moses and Aaron had performed. But none of that worked, in fact life is worse. But God wasn’t shocked. God’s rescue is always rightly on God’s terms. He is the creator and sustainer of all things. God was not surprised, and we know this because of 4:21 and also because of what the Lord now says. Not only had God warned Moses that Pharaoh wouldn’t let the people go.

  1. God (again) Promises Deliverance

In the verses we turn to in Chapter 6, God now reminds Moses of who he is and again promises deliverance. God is repeating what he has already told Moses and in doing so he is saying LISTEN.  God says four things to Moses in these first 5 verses. Firstly in verse 1 God says that He is in control.  Read with me verse 1

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”

God will cause Pharaoh to let his people go. But this is God’s timing. God knows exactly what he is doing and reminds Moses that he is God and it will be his mighty hand that will cause Pharaoh to let his people go, he was cause Pharaoh to drive the people out of his country.

In Verses 2-5 God reminds Moses of who God is.

God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty,[a] but by my name the Lord[b] I did not make myself fully known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

Secondly, God reminds Moses that he is Yahweh, repeating what he had told Moses in Ex 3:14 that he is the Lord. Moses can’t really miss this.

Thirdly, God reminds Moses that he has an agreement, a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that God will keep his promise. As God had told Moses in Exodus 3:16 & 17.

Fourthly, God repeats to Moses that he has indeed heard the cry of his people. I have heard their groaning, their cry. Once again God was repeating what he had told Moses in Exodus 2:24

So after God has again reminded Moses of who he is, that he is in control and that he will indeed rescue his covenant people. He then gives Moses the words to say to the Israelites. The big point is that God’s covenant promise will be fulfilled. What God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will come true.

Verses 6-8 

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”

There are seven wonderful promises in these three verses.

  • I will bring you out
  • I will free you
  • I will redeem you
  • I will take you as my own people
  • I will be your God
  • I will bring you into the land I promised
  • I will give you the land as a possession

And every one of these promises will come true because God has promised it.

So Moses had wrongly come to God and basically said God, what is going on? God had again explained to Moses who he was and what would transpire and by the fact that Moses reports this to the Israelites in verse 9, we can assume that he was back on the bandwagon, even if only for a short time, Moses now understands (again).

Yet where we end in this section is not exactly uplifting. For unlike in Exodus 4:31 the first time Moses addressed the people and where the people believe and after hearing that the Lord is concerned for them, bow down and worship. This time they have a very different reaction. Read with me Exodus 6:9

Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labour.

The Israelites were so caught up in the fact that their life was just made more difficult that they refused to listen. Even though they had been told ‘everything the Lord had said to Moses’, and seen the mighty deeds. They were too caught up in their own misery.

The book of Exodus tells of God’s plan being fulfilled. Indeed it unfolds exactly as God said it would. There are no real surprises here and yet we see Moses, Aaron and the Israelites in this section question God’s plan at the very first hurdle.

So how easily do we get discouraged when things don’t go the way that we thought they would? Has this year of COVID-19 had you running to God, or has the hardship meant that you have moved away from God?

In one sense the question is who do we listen to? Do we read God’s word and follow it. For as we have seen in this section today. God’s word is true, it is correct, and it comes to pass. In fact for those of us who have been reading through the book “Taking God at his word”, these are the truths that we learn. That the bible is sufficient, clear, authoritative and necessary. Moses also has the very words of God being spoken to him and yet Moses is seemingly more concerned about the words of the Israelites, than the very words of God.

God’s plans will succeed. God’s plans always succeed. The disciples of Jesus didn’t want their teacher, their messiah to die on the cross when Jesus explained to them that this was God’s plan. In fact Peter said no to Jesus in Matthew 16:22 after Jesus explained that he must be killed and on the third day rise again. Peter was questioning God’s plan and Jesus rightly rebuked him. The words of Jesus make clear what was going on

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Moses likewise had in mind human concerns and what people thought, rather than what God had planned and ordered him to do. And we see in the end that not only did the people say no to God’s plan, but Moses joins them in verse 12.

Now Moses has come full circle and ended up back where he was in 4:11-17.

God’s Plans are Perfect – Trust in God’s Plan

But the wonderful eternal news is that even though we sin, we lose heart, God never changes. His plan will come to pass. For those of us here today and those watching via livestream, I want to remind you that God’s perfect plan of salvation is complete in Jesus. That those of us who have confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead. Well you are saved and God’s plan for you is to be with him forever. That plan is set. It is certain. So when things are tough, when things are not going the way that we would like them to go. Let’s remember that God’s plans are perfect. Let’s look to God’s word to find our way, to light our path and not the world’s way. Let’s trust in God’s plan. Let’s pray.